Kevin McCarthy is racing away from reporters to avoid talking about January 6
“Make an appointment in my office and come on by another time, ok?”
I wrote yesterday about Republicans wanting to talk about anything but the RNC’s official embrace of the insurrection. Later in the day, Kevin McCarthy just ran away.
CNN’s Manu Raju approached McCarthy in a hallway and asked him about the RNC’s designation of January 6 as “legitimate political discourse” and its sanction of the two Republicans participating in the congressional investigation of it. McCarthy all but yelled “squirrel!” and ran away, replying with a 30-second word salad that included, where comprehensible, some outright fabrications.
“What they were talking about is the six RNC members who [the committee] has subpoenaed, who weren't even here [on January 6], who were in Florida that day,” McCarthy said, referring to the RNC’s censure resolution, which you can read in full here.
McCarthy then walked away before Raju could ask any followup questions.
But despite what McCarthy said, or tried to say, the RNC censure resolution makes no reference at all to subpoenas or to objections to the January 6 committee’s process, beyond a completely generic reference to the committee’s supposed disregard for “due process.”
On the contrary, the document makes clear that the RNC’s beef with Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger is about them “participating in a Democrat-led prosecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” on January 6. It also accuses them of conspiring with Democrats to defeat Republicans in this year’s elections.
In reality, Cheney and Kinzinger are conservative Republicans who have only broken with their party over their particular objection to Trump’s effort to install himself as an autocrat, and their party’s descent into authoritarianism more broadly. The RNC’s censure resolution is, baldly, about retaking power, declaring that “winning back the majority in Congress, including the United States House of Representatives, in 2022 must be the primary goal of the House Republican Conference and requires all Republicans working together to accomplish the same.” It accuses Cheney and Kinzinger of being traitors to that cause.
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So yes, McCarthy is just making stuff up when he says the RNC’s censure was really about technical issues surrounding subpoenas — those aren’t even mentioned in the relevant document. Similarly nonsensical was his contention that the censure was about “six RNC members who [the committee] has subpoenaed, who weren't even here, who were in Florida that day.” Raju indicated in a follow up tweet that those comments were seemingly based on nothing.
And searches of lists of January 6-related subpoenas compiled by CNN and The Hill indicate that only two people associated with the RNC have received subpoenas. So who knows what McCarthy was referring to. He might’ve just been staying stuff to pacify Raju.
McCarthy did not get more dignified as Tuesday wore on; later that day, he more or less ran away from ABC’s Rachel Scott, who tried to ask him about the RNC defining the insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.”
“Make an appointment in my office and come on by another time, ok?” he breathlessly told Scott as he blew past her while she tried to talk to him.
Meanwhile, in better news, we have — shockingly — Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican caucus in the other chamber. While you do not under any circumstances gotta hand it to him, McConnell deserves a modicum of credit for making clear during a news conference that he (accurately) regards January 6 as “a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election.” He went on to rebuke the RNC.
“The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority,” McConnell said. “That's not the job of the RNC.”
The difference is that while there are certainly some pro-insurrection members of the Senate GOP caucus, McConnell is secure in his position as their leader. Despite Trump’s disdain for him, McConnell doesn’t need to appease the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan. He may have debased himself by saying he’ll support Trump in 2024 if he’s the Republican presidential nominee, but McConnell has at least consistently made it clear that he’s not a fan of all this overturning elections stuff, even if that puts him at odds with the majority in his party.
McCarthy, by contrast, aspires to become House Speaker and needs to avoid incurring Trump’s wrath if he wants to get there. McCarthy gave a speech on the floor of the House criticizing Trump in the immediate aftermath of January 6; he seems to feel (or have felt) some genuine uneasiness about his party’s authoritarian turn. But he also seems to realize that his personal fortunes depend on his ability to mollify the pro-insurrection faction, and as a result, he’s now talking out of both sides of his mouth. And making a fool of himself.
“There’s always a clip” is the new “there’s always a tweet”
Former President Trump’s document-destroying habits are back in the news following a Saturday report from the Washington Post that straightforwardly accuses him of violating the Presidential Records Act by flouting document preservation laws.
Trump “tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane,” it says, “despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents.”
Then, on Monday, the New York Times built on that with a piece about how Trump recently handed over to the National Archives “15 boxes of documents, letters, gifts and mementos that he had taken with him when leaving office but that he had been legally required to leave in the custody of the federal government, officials said on Monday.”
While we’ve all obviously become quite numb to Trump’s complete disregard for the rule of law, the two biggest US newspapers accusing him of illegal conduct in a 48 hour period is noteworthy. And then I was reminded that Tuesday was the two-year anniversary of Trump accusing Nancy Pelosi of breaking the law for theatrically ripping of up a copy of Trump’s speech following his 2020 State of the Union.
Of course, ripping up the text of a speech that everybody just heard is far less problematic than destroying presidential records and forcing government officials to try to piece them back together with tape. If his staff really was constantly telling him he couldn’t engage in his favorite pastime of destroying evidence, maybe he just had document destruction on his mind. But the projection involved in Trump making this accusation against Pelosi while he was apparently engaging in an orgy of document ripping is just another illustration of how shamelessness is the MAGA superpower.
That’s it for today!
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Great summary - thanks!
Glad McCarthy’s taking up speed walking as he could definitely afford to drop 10 or 15 lbs.